List of Muhammad's Wives and Concubines

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According to Anas ibn Malik, the Prophet Muhammad used to visit all eleven of his wives in one night; but he could manage this, as he had the sexual prowess of thirty men.[1] The historian Al-Tabari calculated that Muhammad married a total of fifteen women, though only ever eleven at one time; and two of these marriages were never consummated.[2] This tally of fifteen does not include at least four concubines. According to Merriam-Webster, a concubine is “a woman with whom a man cohabits without being married”, and has a “social status in a household below that of a wife.”[3] All of Muhammad’s concubines were his slaves. Al-Tabari also excludes from the fifteen several other women with whom Muhammad had some kind of marriage contract but who, due to legal technicalities, never became full wives. It is fairly certain, however, that none of these unions was ever consummated. They were the cultural equivalent of a broken engagement. Finally, there were several other women whom Muhammad wished to marry, or whom he was invited to marry, but for various reasons he did not.

Lists[edit]

The following lists of women in Muhammad’s life are based on the Islamic sources. Because there were so many women, some of whom had only a very brief association with him, it is possible that this number still falls short of the real total.

Wives and Concubines[edit]

No. Name Status Date Details Notable Early Sources
1 Khadijah bint Khuwaylid Married July 595. She was a wealthy merchant from Mecca who employed the 24-year-old Muhammad and then proposed marriage. She was the mother of six of his children and a key character in the earliest development of Islam. She was Muhammad's only wife as long as she lived. She died in April 620.
2 Sawda bint Zam'a Married, though with limited rights. May 620. She was a tanner who had been an early convert to Islam. Muhammad married her at a time when he was unpopular and bankrupt. He considered divorcing her when, as the oldest and plainest of his wives (described as "fat and very slow"), she no longer attracted him, but she persuaded him to keep her in the house in exchange for never sleeping with her again (she gave up her turn to Aisha).
3 Aisha bint Abi Bakr Married Contracted May 620 but first consummated in April or May 623. She was the daughter of Muhammad's best friend and head evangelist Abu Bakr. Muhammad selected the six-year-old Aisha in preference to her teenaged sister, and she remained his favourite wife. She contributed a major body of information to Islamic law and history. The paedophilic aspect of this relationship has institutionalised such marriages within Islam.
4 Hafsa bint Umar Married January or February 625. She was the daughter of Muhammad's wealthy friend Umar. Hafsa was the custodian of the autograph-text of the Qur'an, which was actually somewhat different from the standard Qur'an of today.
5 Zaynab bint Khuzayma Married February or March 625. She was a middle-class widow known as "Mother of the Poor" because of her commitment to charity work. She died in October 625.
6 Hind (Umm Salama) bint Abi Umayya Married April 626. An attractive widow with four young children, Hind had been rejected by her aristocratic family in Mecca because they were so hostile to Islam. Her tact and practical wisdom sometimes mitigated Muhammad's cruelties. She was a notable teacher of Islamic law and a partisan of Ali.
7 Zaynab bint Jahsh Married March 627. An early convert to Islam, Zaynab was the wife of Muhammad's adopted son Zayd ibn Harithah. She was also the Prophet's biological cousin. When Muhammad became infatuated with Zaynab, Zayd was pressured into a divorce. To justify marrying her, Muhammad announced new revelations that (1) an adopted son did not count as a real son, so Zaynab was not his daughter-in-law, and (2) as a prophet, he was allowed more than the standard four wives. Zaynab excelled at leather-crafts.
8 Rayhana bint Zayd ibn Amr Sexual slavery May 627. Her first husband was one of the 600-900 Qurayza men whom Muhammad beheaded in April 627. He enslaved all the women and selected Rayhana for himself because she was the most beautiful. When she refused to marry him, he kept her as a concubine instead. She died shortly before Muhammad in 632.
9 Juwayriyah bint Al-Harith Married January 628. The daughter of an Arab chief, she was taken prisoner when Muhammad attacked her tribe. Muhammad did not make a habit of marrying his war-captives, but Aisha claimed that Juwayriyah was so beautiful that men always fell in love with her at first sight.
10 Ramlah (Umm Habiba) bint Abi Sufyan Married July 628 (following a proxy wedding earlier in the year) She was a daughter of Abu Sufyan, the Meccan chief who led the resistance against Muhammad, but she had been a teenaged convert to Islam. This marriage offset some of Muhammad's political humiliation in the Treaty of Hudaybiya by demonstrating that he could command the loyalty of his adversary's own daughter. Ramlah was devoted to Muhammad and quick to pick quarrels with people who were not.
11 Safiyah bint Huyayy Married July 628. She was the beautiful daughter of a Jewish chief, Huyayy ibn Akhtab. Muhammad married her on the day he defeated the last Jewish tribe in Arabia, only hours after he had supervised the slaying of Kinana her second husband. His earlier victims had included her father, brother, first husband, three uncles and several cousins. This marriage was of no benefit to Safiyah's defeated tribe, who were banished from Arabia a few years later; its real political significance was that Safiyah's presence in Muhammad's household was an open demonstration that he had defeated the Jews.
12 Maymunah bint Al-Harith Married February 629. She was a middle-class widow from Mecca who proposed marriage to Muhammad. A placid woman who kept a very tidy house, Maymunah was completely obsessed with rules and rituals.
13 Mariyah bint Shamoon al-Quptiya Sexual slavery c. June 629. She was one of several slaves whom the Governor of Egypt sent as a present to Muhammad. He kept her as a concubine despite the objections of his official wives, who feared her beauty. Mariyah bore Muhammad a son, Ibrahim.
14 Mulayka bint Kaab Divorced January 630. Her family resisted the Muslim invasion of Mecca. Needing to appease the conqueror, they gave him the beautiful Mulayka as a bride. When she realised that Muhammad's army had killed her father, she demanded a divorce, which he granted her. She died a few weeks later.
15 Fatima al-Aliya bint Zabyan al-Dahhak Divorced February or March 630. She was the daughter of a minor chief who had converted to Islam. Muhammad divorced her after only a few weeks "because she peeked at men in the mosque courtyard." Fatima had to work for the rest of her life as a dung-collector, and she outlived all Muhammad's widows.
16 Asma bint Al-Numan Divorced June or July 630. She was a princess from Yemen whose family hoped the marriage alliance would ward off a military invasion from Medina. But Muhammad divorced her before consummation after Aisha tricked her into reciting the divorce formula. Asma later married a brother of Umm Salama.
17 Al-Jariya Sexual slavery After 627. She was a domestic slave belonging to Zaynab bint Jahsh, who made Muhammad a present of her. She seems to have been an "unofficial" concubine who did not have a regular turn on his roster.
18 Amra bint Yazid Divorced c. 631. She was a Bedouin of no political importance. Muhammad divorced her before consummation when he saw she had symptoms of leprosy.
19 Tukana al-Quraziya Sexual slavery Unknown, but probably in the last months of Muhammad's life. She was a member of the defeated Qurayza tribe whom Muhammad selected as one of his personal slaves. She appears to have been another "unofficial" concubine without a regular turn on the roster. After Muhammad's death, she married Abbas.

Engagements and Broken Contracts[edit]

No. Name Date Details Notable early sources
1 Ghaziya (Umm Sharik) bint Jabir Early 627. She was a poor widow with dependent children. She sent Muhammad a proposal of marriage, and he agreed to the contract. However, when he met her in person, he saw that, although attractive, she was "old", and he divorced her immediately. She never remarried.
2 Khawla bint Hudhayl Probably mid- or late-627. She was a princess from the powerful Christian Taghlib tribe in northern Arabia. Her uncle arranged the marriage, which was expected to be politically advantageous on both sides. Muhammad signed the contract, but Khawla died on her journey to Medina, before they met in person.
3 Sharaf bint Khalifa Probably mid- or late-627. She was an aunt of Khawla bint Hudhayl (above). After Khawla's death, the family tried to substitute Sharaf. In one tradition, Sharaf also died before consummation. In another tradition, Muhammad changed his mind and broke off the contract.
4 Layla bint al-Khutaym After 627. One of the first converts in Medina, Layla asked Muhammad to marry her so that her clan, the Zafar, would be the most closely allied to the Prophet. He agreed. However, Layla's family warned her that she was too "jealous and whip-tongued" to adapt well to polygamy, which would cause political problems for the whole community. Under this pressure, Layla broke off the engagement.
5 Umm Habib bint Al-Abbas After March 630. She was Muhammad's cousin. He saw her as a baby crawling around and remarked, "If I am alive when she grows up, I will marry her." He changed his mind when he found out that her father had been his foster-brother and died soon afterwards.
6 Sana al-Nashat bint Rifaa (Asma) ibn As-Salt c. April 630. She was the daughter of a Muslim warrior who hoped to advance his career by becoming Muhammad's father-in-law. Muhammad signed the contract, but Sana died before the marriage could be consummated.
7 Umra bint Rifaa c. May 630. She was the sister of Sana (above). After Sana died, their father tried to interest Muhammad in Umra. At first he agreed, but he later changed his mind, ostensibly because Rifaa boasted that Umra "has never known a day's illness in her life."
8 Bint Jundub ibn Damra of Janda’a Unknown. Nothing is known about this woman except that Muhammad contracted marriage with her but divorced her before consummation.
9 Jamra bint Al-Harith c. 631 She proposed marriage to Muhammad, and he accepted. Her father informed him that she suffered from a serious disease, whereupon Muhammad broke off the engagement. According to the Muslim chroniclers, her father arrived home only to find that she really had been afflicted with leprosy.
10 Al-Shanba’ bint Amr January 632. She was from a Bedouin tribe who appeared friendly to Muhammad but who had also been friends of the Qurayza tribe. Al-Shanba’ insulted Muhammad on the first day by implying that he was not a true prophet, and he divorced her immediately.
11 Qutayla (Habla) bint Qays May 632. She was a cousin of Asma bint Al-Numan, and the Yemenites sent her to Muhammad as a substitute bride. He signed the marriage contract but he died before Qutayla arrived in Medina. As soon as she heard that he was dead, she apostated from Islam. Soon afterwards she married an Arab chief who was a leader in the Apostasy Wars.
12 Mary, mother of Jesus The Afterlife. Muhammad said that Allah had wedded him in Heaven to the Virgin Mary, who was one of the four perfect women. The Qur'an refers several times to Mary, praising her chastity and affirming the virgin birth of Jesus. Muhammad said she lived in a beautiful jewelled palace in Paradise next to Khadijah's.
13 Queen Asiya of Egypt The Afterlife. Muhammad said that Allah had wedded him in Heaven to Queen Asiya, who was one of the four perfect women. The Qur'an tells how Asiya rescued the infant Moses from the evil Pharaoh, and how Pharaoh later tortured his wife to death for her monotheism. Muhammad said that Asiya's palace in Heaven was on the other side of Khadijah's.
14 Kulthum bint Amram The Afterlife. Muhammad originally believed that Maryam the sister of Moses and Maryam the mother of Jesus were one and the same. When he realised his mistake, he apparently over-corrected by deciding that Moses' sister was not even named Maryam. He renamed her Kulthum ("Chubby Cheeks") and said that Allah had wedded her to him in Heaven. He did not say that she was a perfect woman or that she lived next to Khadijah.

Refused Proposals[edit]

No. Name Date Details Notable early sources
1 Fakhita (Umm Hani) bint Abi Talib before 595;

January 630;

c. 631

Muhammad proposed to his cousin Fakhita, but her father married her off to a wealthy Makhzumite poet.

Nearly forty years later, after Muhammad conquered Mecca, Fakhita's husband fled rather than convert to Islam, causing an automatic divorce. Muhammad proposed to Fakhita again, but she refused, saying she could not be equally fair to a new husband and her young children.

Later still, Fakhita came to Muhammad, saying her children had grown up and she was finally ready to marry him; but he said she was too late.

2 “As Many Wives as You Want” c.618-619. The chiefs of Mecca offered Muhammad "as many wives as you want in marriage," together with wealth, political power and the services of a competent exorcist, if only he would stop insulting their gods. Muhammad refused this offer, which was made while Khadijah was still alive.
3 Habiba bint Sahl c. 623. Habiba was a prominent member of the Najjar clan in Medina. When the chief died with no obvious heir, Muhammad proposed to Habiba. His companions warned him that the women of Medina were not used to polygamy and that the men were very jealous for the happiness of their daughters; if this marriage turned out badly, key citizens might withdraw their support from Islam. Muhammad retracted his proposal, but the Najjar clan made him their chief anyway.
4 Al-Ansariya After 625. This unnamed woman proposed to Muhammad in Hafsa's presence. Hafsa decried the shame of a woman who would throw herself at a man, but Muhammad retorted, "She is better than you because she wanted me while you only find fault." He refused the proposal, but promised the woman a reward in Paradise for asking.

In fact several ansar women are said to have proposed to Muhammad; while this example is anonymous, it clearly refers to a woman who is distinct from Layla bint Khutaym.

5 Khawla bint Hakim After 627. This is the same Khawla bint Hakim who arranged Muhammad's marriages to Aisha and Sawda. Her first husband was Hafsa's uncle, and their elder son fought at Badr. After being widowed, Khawla asked Muhammad to marry her, but he refused without giving a reason. However, he found her a new husband the same day.
6 Dubaa bint Amir After 627. Dubaa was a wealthy noblewoman to whom Muhammad sent a marriage proposal when he heard about her beautiful long hair that filled a whole room when she sat down. But by the time she accepted him, he had been advised that she was “elderly” (her grown-up son had been born from her third marriage) so he retracted his proposal before he had even met her.
7 Izza bint Abi Sufyan After July 628. She was the sister of Muhammad’s wife Ramlah. Ramlah proposed Izza as a bride, "since, as I cannot be your only wife, I would like to share my good fortune with my sister." But Muhammad said he could not marry two sisters concurrently.
8 Durrah bint Abi Salama After July 628. She was the daughter of Muhammad's wife Hind. Another wife, Ramlah, noticed that Muhammad admired Durrah and asked if he intended to marry her. He replied that he could not marry his stepdaughter; and besides, her father had been his foster-brother. On the day Muhammad died, Durrah was only six years old.
9 Umama bint Hamza After March 630. She was Muhammad's cousin and said to be the prettiest girl in the family. Ali proposed her as a bride while she was still a child, but Muhammad said that he could not marry her because her father had been his foster-brother. She later married his stepson, Salama ibn Abi Salama.
10 Safiyah bint Bashshama September 630. She was a war-captive from Mesopotamia. Muhammad asked her to marry him, but when she said she wanted to return to her husband, he allowed her family to ransom her. It is said that her family cursed her for placing her personal happiness above the political needs of the tribe.

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References[edit]

  1. Sahih Bukhari 1:5:268. See also Sahih Bukhari 7:62:142.
  2. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 126-127.
  3. Concubine – Merriam-Webster, accessed September 28, 2011
  4. Guillaume/Ishaq 82-83, 106-107, 111, 113-114, 160-161, 191, 313-314.
  5. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  6. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 127-128; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 3-4
  7. Bewley/Saad 8:9-12, 39, 151-152.
  8. Sahih Bukhari 2:26:740.
  9. Guillaume/Ishaq 148, 309, 530.
  10. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  11. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 128-130; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 169-170.
  12. Bewley/Saad 8:39-42, 152.
  13. Guillaume/Ishaq 116, 223, 279-280, 311, 457, 464-465, 468, 493-499, 522, 535-536, 544, 649-650, 667, 678-688.
  14. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  15. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 128-131; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 171-174.
  16. Bewley/Saad 8:43-56, 152.
  17. Guillaume/Ishaq 218, 301, 679.
  18. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  19. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 131-132; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 174-175.
  20. Bewley/Saad 8:56-60, 152.
  21. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  22. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 138; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 63-64.
  23. Bewley/Saad 8:82, 152.
  24. Guillaume/Ishaq 146, 147, 150-153, 167-169, 213-214, 462, 529, 536, 546, 589, 680.
  25. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  26. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 132; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 175-177.
  27. Bewley/Saad 8:61-67, 152.
  28. Guillaume/Ishaq 215, 495.
  29. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  30. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 134; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 180-182.
  31. Bewley/Saad 8:72-81, 152.
  32. Guillaume/Ishaq 466.
  33. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 137, 141; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 164-165.
  34. Bewley/Saad 8:92-94, 153.
  35. Guillaume/Ishaq 490-493.
  36. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  37. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 133; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 182-184.
  38. Bewley/Saad 8:83-85, 152.
  39. Guillaume/Ishaq 146, 527-528, 529, 543.
  40. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  41. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 133-134; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 177-180.
  42. Bewley/Saad 8:68-71, 153.
  43. Guillaume/Ishaq 241-242, 511, 514-515, 516-517, 520.
  44. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  45. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 134-135; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 184-185.
  46. Bewley/Saad 8:85-92, 153.
  47. Guillaume/Ishaq 531, 679-680.
  48. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  49. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 135; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 185-186.
  50. Bewley/Saad 8:94-99, 153.
  51. Guillaume/Ishaq 653.
  52. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 137, 141; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 193-195.
  53. Bewley/Saad 8:148-151.
  54. Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, p. 165.
  55. Bewley/Saad 8:106, 154.
  56. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 138; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 186-188. Despite the confusion over the name, she is probably also the woman referred to in Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 136-137 and the “Fatima bint Shurayh” of Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 139
  57. Bewley/Saad 8:100-101, 153.
  58. Ibn Hisham note 918 (here he has apparently confused her with Amra bint Yazid).
  59. Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 188-191. She is mentioned in Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 128-130 but has apparently been partly confused with Amra bint Yazid.
  60. Bewley/Saad 8:101-105, 153.
  61. Ibn al-Qayyim, Za’d al-Ma’ad 1:114.
  62. Ibn Ishaq, cited in Guillaume, A. (1960). New Light on the Life of Muhammad, p. 55. Manchester: Manchester University Press
  63. Ibn Hisham note 918 (here he has apparently confused her with Asma bint Al-Numan).
  64. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 139; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 187-188.
  65. Bewley/Saad 8:100-101.
  66. Majlisi, Hayat al-Qulub 2:52.
  67. Ibn al-Qayyim, Zaad al-Ma’ad 1:114.
  68. Ibn Hisham note 918.
  69. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 139.
  70. Bewley/Saad 8:111-114.
  71. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 139; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, p. 166
  72. Bewley/Saad 8:116.
  73. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 138.
  74. Bewley/Saad 8:116-117.
  75. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 139.
  76. Bewley/Saad 8:7, 108-109, 231.
  77. Guillaume/Ishaq 311.
  78. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 140.
  79. Bewley/Saad 8:36.
  80. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 135-136; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, p. 166.
  81. Bewley/Saad 8:106-107.
  82. Bewley/Saad 8:107.
  83. Bewley/Saad 8:106.
  84. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 140-141
  85. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 136.
  86. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, pp. 138-139.
  87. Bewley/Saad 8:105.
  88. Qur'an 3:33-51; Qur'an 19:16-40; Qur'an 21:91; Qur'an 66:12.
  89. Sahih Bukhari 4:55:642. Sahih Bukhari 5:58:163.
  90. Sahih Muslim 31:5965.
  91. Majlisi, Hayat al-Qulub 2:26.
  92. Qur'an 28:4-13; Qur'an 66:11.
  93. Sahih Muslim 31:5966.
  94. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir on Qur'an 66:11.
  95. Majlisi, Hayat al-Qulub 2:26.
  96. Qur'an 19:27-28.
  97. Sahih Muslim 5:326.
  98. Majlisi, Hayat al-Qulub 2:26.
  99. Guillaume/Ishaq 181, 184, 404-405, 551-552, 557, 689.
  100. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 140; Al-Tabari, Vol. 39, pp. 170-171
  101. Bewley/Saad 8:109-110.
  102. Al-Tabari, Vol. 6, pp. 106-107.
  103. Guillaume/Ishaq 235.
  104. Bewley/Saad 8:288-289.
  105. Abu Dawud 12:2219 ; Abu Dawud 12:2220 ; Abu Dawud 12:2221 .
  106. Al-Muwatta 20 10.31b.
  107. Majlisi, Hayat al-Qulub 2:52.
  108. Guillaume/Ishaq 590
  109. Sahih Bukhari 7:62:24; Sahih Bukhari 7:62:58; Sahih Bukhari 7:62:63; Sahih Bukhari 7:62:66.
  110. Bewley/Saad 8:114.
  111. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir on Qur'an 33:50.
  112. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 140
  113. Bewley/Saad 8:111.
  114. Sahih Muslim 8:3412; Sahih Muslim 8:3413.
  115. Sahih Muslim 8:3412; Sahih Muslim 8:3413.
  116. Bewley/Saad 8:115-116.
  117. Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 140
  118. Bewley/Saad 8:109-111.